“We’re Super Chefs, okay?” Alex Guarnaschelli puts forth in the show’s promo. “A hamburger and fries is not going to cut it here, folks!”And thus marks the season four opener of The Next Iron Chef.This time around, ten Super Chefs have gathered in hopes of earning the coveted title and the opportunity to do battle from the Iron Chefs’ side of Kitchen Stadium on Food Network’s much-loved culinary program Iron Chef America.Among the worthy adversaries are judging panel alumni of Chopped, Worst Cooks in America and 24 Hour Restaurant Battle. All ten boast headlining positions at restaurants: Guarnaschelli is in charge of the French fare at NoHo’s multi-dimensional space Butter, Marcus Samuelsson is chef-owner at Red Rooster Harlem (where the brunch menu features “jerk bacon & egg” and “whiskey fudge”), Elizabeth Falkner is in charge of both the Michelin recommended Orson and the dessert/ice cream parlor Citizen Cake, and Phoenix’s Beau MacMillian acts as executive chef at upscale resort Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (and came to a victorious end when he appeared as a challenger on Iron Chef America). And the accolades don’t end there.As a culinary artist with more than 25 years of experience, Geoffrey Zakariancurrently claims kitchen detail at two restaurants in New York City: The Lambs Club and The National. The former features an elegant take on casual modern American cuisine and cocktails. The latter infuses the best qualities of classic American dining and European cafes. Zakarian has made a name for himself as an in-demand kitchen connoisseur – no easy feat in New York City – and executed his designs at a number of internationally renowned restaurants before becoming something of a mainstay on Food Network programs like The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Food Feuds, 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, Chopped and Iron Chef America.Spike Mendelsohn is no stranger to the world of culinary television, either, having appeared on Iron Chef America and Food 2’s Kelsey & Spike Cook, on which he acts both host and challenger to Next Food Network Star’s former contestant Kelsey Nixon. In his spare time Mendelsohn maintains the D.C. mainstays Good Stuff Eatery and We the Pizza.
Institute of Culinary Education instructor Anne Burrell is among the contestants most familiar with Kitchen Stadium, having worked there as a sous chef for Mario Batali. Burrell’s experience dicing and slicing beside Batali in battle may give her an edge of over her Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs peers. That she hosts Food Network’s Secrets of a Restaurant Chef proves she has extra tricks up both sleeves.
49-year-old Michael Chiarello has been known to serve wood grilled chops of grass-fed lamb, Gulf prawns and 21-day dry aged prime rib-eye at his micro-regional Italian eatery Bottega in Napa Valley. The super chef is also the host of Food Network series Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello.
Chuck Hughes is another very familiar face from the upcoming season; this Canadian super chef is both co-owner of Montreal’s Garde-Manger and host of Cooking Channel program Chuck’s Day Off. Hughes proved his worth last year when he got the best of Iron Chef Bobby Flay, which fans know the challenger doesn’t win often in the tough arena.
Perhaps the best known of the contestants is behind the same face which appears at the center of the new season’s main press photo: Robert Irvine. The star of both Restaurant: Impossible and Dinner: Impossible owns Hilton Head Island restaurant Robert Irvine Eat!, and – as if that weren’t enough – his experiences under the high pressure of televised competition also include a stint on Worst Cooks in America.
The exciting series premiere of The Next Iron Chef Super Chef is set to take place October 30th at 9pm on the Food Network, when the floodgates of culinary talents will open and the cutthroat competition will officially begin.